Moral Implications of Sex Change

Moral Implications of Sex Change

A moral issue facing teenagers in America today is whether to change their birth sex. Some young people claim that their gender is misapplied. In other words, some girls claim they are actually boys, and some boys claim they are girls. In addition to legal and relational issues, there are also moral implications of sex change.

Medical procedures are now available using drugs and surgery to implement the sex change some feel they should have. The cause of these feelings is highly complex and may involve environmental factors, social pressure, identity issues, the breakdown of the nuclear family, or just a social fad.

The trend has become very complicated on many levels. One area affected is sports competition which began with sex-changed Russian athletes who seemed to have an advantage in certain sports. In the legal area, parents of girls have brought court cases claiming they have been denied scholarships and awards because a transgender athlete had the body of a male. There are also cases where the sex of a child was changed without the parents’ permission or knowledge.

The Bible clearly spells out God’s design of male and female. To change the sex of a child with surgery, puberty blockers, and hormones means they will need a constant regimen of drugs for the remainder of their life. While court cases are swirling, many in the medical profession are concerned because the long-term effect is unknown. For that reason, Alabama and Arkansas have passed laws making it a crime to administer or prescribe these procedures and drugs to a child under the age of 19.

We have laws to protect people, such as requiring the use of seat belts, but the question of where human rights begin and end is often not very clear. We sympathize with parents and children who are struggling with this issue. Unfortunately, the implications are often not spelled out in advance, and the moral implications of sex change are large.

— John N. Clayton © 2022

Reference: Wire Reports for May 10, 2022, in the South Bend Tribune on that date (page 8A).

Pyramid Power Mystery

Pyramid Power Mystery
The Great Pyramid of Khufu and the Pyramid of Khafre under a dramatic sky.

I have many interesting stories from my years as a public school science teacher. One of my favorites involves a pyramid power mystery. A student in my physics class maintained that the Great Pyramid in Egypt was a creation of aliens who used methods unknown to modern science. He claimed that the pyramid had mystic forces that could benefit humans if we only understood it.

This young man claimed that one property of the Great Pyramid was that anything contained within it would not deteriorate. He had a “Great Pyramid” model that he said he could use to prove it. I had some apples in my classroom refrigerator, so I offered him a challenge. He would put one apple in his “Great Pyramid” model, and I would keep mine in the fridge. Then, in 14 days, we would both eat our apples in front of the class. He agreed, and the contest was on.

My classroom had windows on the east side of the building and no air conditioning. Not only was the classroom frequently hot, but sunlight bathed the room because there were no window shades. Every day, I would bring my apple out of the refrigerator, and the kids would join me in challenging the Great Pyramid promoter. About a week into the contest, the pyramid apple changed color, and dark spots appeared. Some fluid seeped onto the floor of the “Great Pyramid,” and the kids in the class started kidding my challenger about how bad that apple was going to taste. After the weekend, I came into my classroom, and the “Great Pyramid” was gone, and the apple that was in it had also disappeared. You could call this a pyramid power mystery because the pyramid and the apple were nowhere to be seen.

That was only a minor case of pyramid power mystery claims. For example, over the years, authors have written books and articles making unsupported alien claims about the construction of the Great Pyramid of Giza. In truth, it is an amazing demonstration of human engineering talent and shows that ancient people knew how to build structures on a colossal scale. According to World Archaeology magazine, discoveries in the last ten years leave no doubt that the Great Pyramid was not an alien creation. It was the product of humans who understood how to make massive structures. We see a connection to the biblical account of the Tower of Babel in Genesis 11.

In 2013, researchers found fragments of papyri documents near the Red Sea containing logbooks and records. The documents detailed the activities of teams building the Great Pyramid, known to the locals as Akhet Khufu for the 4th Dynasty king who reigned from 2633 BC to 2605 BC. Dubbed “The Red Sea Scrolls,” they show the planning and construction logistics, from mining copper to make tools to cutting the stones to the housing arrangements for the workers.

Humans often attempt to extend their physical lives in costly ways, and the pyramids of Giza are a classic example. Unfortunately, the reality is that this physical body will return to the dust from which it came, and nothing humans can do can change that. However, we can preserve the real “us,” our spiritual bodies, for eternity. In 1 Corinthians 15:51-57, Paul describes “a mystery,” which is the resurrection to incorruptible spiritual bodies. The pyramid power mystery is no longer, but the promise that God will preserve our soul for eternity will remain a mystery to those of us who are disciples of Jesus Christ until that great day of the resurrection.

— John N. Clayton © 2022

Reference: World Archaeology magazine March 24, 2022

What Is a Miracle?

What Is a Miracle? Jesus Raising Lazarus
Jesus Raising Lazarus

One of the challenges we all face is whether to believe claims of miracles. What is a miracle? Those of us trained in the sciences frequently hear someone call a normal action of the forces of nature a miracle. Scammers often claim to be able to perform miracles. That also happened in biblical times. In Acts 8:9-24, we read about a man who made a business in sorcery. Acts 19:13-16 tells of a group of itinerant schemers who tried to perform exorcisms. What is the definition of real miracles, and what is their biblical purpose?

Religious people take John 21:25 to indicate that Jesus randomly performed a miracle for whoever had a need. That is not only irrational but fails to understand why Jesus performed miracles. If receiving a miracle was just a matter of a chance encounter with Christ, then some were given an advantage over others. Why were the widow’s son (Luke 7:11-15), Jairus’s daughter (Luke 8:40-42, 49-56), and Lazarus (John 11:1-44) the only ones the gospels tell us that Jesus raised from the dead? Didn’t many other people have huge unmet needs?

What is a miracle in the Bible? The New Testament has different words that refer to “miracles.” First, the Greek word “semeion” is used when the miracle was a sign, as in John 2:11 and 23 or Revelation 12:1 and 3. Next, the Bible uses the Greek word “teras” to refer to anything extraordinary, as in Matthew 24:24, Mark 13:22, or Acts 2:19, where it is usually translated as “wonders.” Finally, the Greek word “dunamis” indicates the miracle was one to show the power or the “mighty deed” of God, such as in Luke 4:36.

In the Old Testament, we see the concept of God’s power in Psalms 19:1, where the Hebrew word is usually translated as “handiwork.” Today, we have a scientific understanding of much of what would have been miraculous to an ancient Hebrew shepherd, but it is still powerful. The phrase “marvelous works” in Psalms 139:13-14 is not describing an instantaneous creation. Instead, it refers to the process of the development of a child in the womb, which people often refer to as a miracle even though it is well understood today.

The Bible shows God’s intelligence and design involved in all His actions. For example, Romans 1:18-23 reflects on the fact that everyone can all see God’s wisdom and design in nature–if they are willing to look. Likewise, Proverbs 8 tells us that all of creation shows God’s wisdom without suggesting magic or micromanaging by God.

The point of miracles in the Bible is to reveal God’s nature and show who spoke for God and who didn’t. What is a miracle today? There have always been those who claimed to be God or God’s representative on Earth. Miracles described in the Bible had a purpose and addressed a spiritual need. They showed God’s love and compassion, but also His power.

In today’s world, with the Word of God available, the practical guide for how to live and how to die is far more critical than looking for a flashy theatrical show. God can do whatever He chooses to do, but the focus on miracles today takes us away from the essential things in life. Knowing how to live with one another in love and peace is more important than seeing miracles.

— John N. Clayton © 2022

Did Pharoah Have Horses?

Did Pharoah Have Horses?

Biblical minimalists and skeptics are always looking for ways to discredit the Bible and support their claim that it is a useless collection of ancient myths. For example, skeptics claimed that the mention of horses in passages like Genesis 47:17, Exodus 9:3, and 14:9-23 could not be accurate because horses had not been domesticated at that time. So, did Pharoah have horses or not?

Previous studies had shown that domesticated horses arrived in Mesopotamia around 2000 BC, so they considered any claim of horses before that time to be in error. Recently, researchers from the Jaques Monod Institute in Paris led by paleogeneticist Eva-Maria Geigl have laid that claim to rest.

Sumerian scribes wrote about “kungas”–a type of horse in the equid family, but unlike today’s domesticated horses. Researchers had not studied these animals until recently when they sequenced the genomes of kunga skeletons found in Syria. They discovered that kungas were a hybrid of an extinct wild ass called a “hemippe” and a female domesticated donkey. Dr. Geigl explained that the ancient Mesopotamians deliberately hybridized these animals to create “fast, strong equids that they could train to carry soldiers into battle.”

This is another case where skeptics have taken erroneous understandings of the practices of ancient people. The use of equids by people at the time of Joseph and the Egyptians was accurate. Breeding animals for specific purposes involved high levels of understanding, and this is “the earliest known evidence of animal hybridization.”

Did Pharoah have horses? Yes, he did, but they may have been different from modern horses. The historical accuracy of the Bible continues to be verified by discoveries using new techniques that science makes available.

— John N. Clayton © 2022

Reference: Archaeology Magazine for May 2022 page 12 and archaeology.org.

Alcohol Is a More Destructive Drug

Alcohol Is a More Destructive Drug

The media and medical profession pay a great deal of attention to the damaging effects of methamphetamine, cocaine, and opioids, but alcohol is a more destructive drug. In 2019, alcohol directly caused the deaths of almost 79,000 people in the United States from illnesses and car crashes. In 2020, the first full year of the COVID pandemic, more than 99,000 people under age 65 died directly from the use of alcohol. That was a 25.5% increase and more lives than COVID claimed that year for those under 65.

There is a widespread belief among many college students that you can’t have fun unless you drink. At the University of Notre Dame, Ted Mandell teaches a class called “Drunk on Film.” The subtitle of the course is “The Psychology of Storytelling with Alcohol and Its Effects on Alcohol Consumption.” Using film clips from movies and alcohol commercials, he helps students understand the problems with drinking and how advertisers and filmmakers seduce them into thinking that excessive alcohol consumption is normal and desirable.

One film that Mandell uses is a 20-minute clip from a documentary by Sut Jhally titled “Advertising at the Edge of Apocalypse.” It shows how alcohol advertising weds drinking to the sports industry and portrays alcohol as an alluring lifestyle. You would think that bright college students could see the indoctrination by the alcohol industry and its role in destructive sex and health issues. However, that is simply not the case. Stress is a part of the problem students face, but peer pressure is a more powerful motivator to drink.

From a Christian perspective, if you believe that your body is the temple of the Holy Spirit (1 Corinthians 3:16) and should be cared for both physically and mentally, that should lead you to avoid alcohol. Seeing the results for people who drink alcohol and use other recreational drugs should be a motivator to avoid them. Our culture condemns the use of meth and crack but sanctions the use of alcohol and marijuana. Looking at the evidence should convince thinking people that alcohol is a more destructive drug.

— John N. Clayton © 2022

References: National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism reported in The Week, April 8, 2022, and “Under the Influence” in Notre Dame Magazine, spring 2022.

Why Does the Moon Look Larger Near the Horizon?

Why Does the Moon Look Larger Near the Horizon?
Full Moon over New York City

Perhaps you saw the total lunar eclipse last night, or maybe it was only umbral (partial) in your area. Either way, it reminds us of God’s intricate design that allows advanced life on this planet. As you watched the Moon, you may have seen it close to the horizon or high in the sky. Why does the Moon look larger near the horizon? Is it really larger, or are your senses being fooled?

Here is a simple experiment you can do with a camera or smartphone. Take a picture of the Moon when it rises and then take another picture of it high in the sky on the same night. Now compare the Moon’s size in the two pictures. You will see that the Moon is the same size. Better yet, stretch out your arm and compare the Moon’s size to your thumb at the two positions on the same night.

If you are thinking that the Moon looks larger at the horizon because it is farther away at that time, that is clearly not the case. The Moon’s distance, and therefore apparent size, does vary somewhat throughout the year, but not on the same night. The difference in apparent size when the Moon is closest to Earth and farthest away is only about 7%. The human eye can barely detect that difference.

So why does the Moon look larger near the horizon? First, realize that it is not our eyes but the human brain that does the seeing. When the Moon is near the horizon, we compare it to distant trees and buildings that we know are large, so we think the Moon looks larger. However, when it is in the middle of the vast, open sky, the Moon seems small by comparison.

We interpret what we see based on previous experiences and prejudices. That means our brain interprets new information filtered through those prejudices. That brings up another question. How does the human mind interpret other areas of understanding, such as the existence of God? Are there filters in your line of sight that can block you from seeing the truth?

— John N. Clayton © 2022

Reference: Discover Magazine

The Only Lunar Eclipse Visible In North America In 2022

The Only Lunar Eclipse Visible In North America In 2022
A Total Lunar Eclipse or “Blood Moon”

This Sunday night, May 15-16, 2022, a total lunar eclipse will be visible in the Western Hemisphere. It will be the only lunar eclipse visible in North America in 2022. The totality will be visible in the eastern United States and Canada and all of Central and South America. It will also be visible in Antarctica, but most of the population seeing it there will be penguins. The partial, or penumbral, eclipse will be visible in the western U.S. and Canada as well as Africa, Europe, and other areas. To find out exactly if or when you can see it in your area, go to TimeandDate.com.

Lunar eclipses occur at the time of the full moon. People commonly call May’s full moon the Flower Moon since it’s the time of year when many flowers are blooming in the Northern Hemisphere. Full moons occur approximately once per month when Earth is between the Moon and the Sun. A couple of times per year, the alignment is so precise that the Moon falls within Earth’s shadow, creating an eclipse. That will happen only one more time this year, on November 8, which also happens to be election day in the United States. However, the November eclipse of the Moon is no omen for the elections, and it won’t even be visible in the United States.

A total lunar eclipse, often called a “blood moon because of its color, is not an omen of anything, despite what some false prophets may suggest. It is a natural function of the solar system God created for us. We can know precisely when eclipses of the Sun and Moon will occur because our solar system is not chaotic. Our Creator gave us an orderly, life-sustaining system in which to live and carry out His plan. With that in mind, enjoy the only lunar eclipse visible in North America in 2022. Let it be a reminder of God’s creative wisdom and His love. (See Genesis 1:16 and Psalms 72:5-7.)

— Roland Earnst © 2022

Animals Are Not Helpless Creatures

Animals Are Not Helpless Creatures
Chimpanzee with Injured Lip

Sometimes people suggest that animals are at the mercy of the elements and therefore plagued with disease, pain, and suffering. The fact is that animals are not helpless creatures suffering from massive illnesses and infections that make their lives a painful misery. Instead, the Creator has given animals immune systems to resist disease and an awareness of ways to treat injuries.

By watching animals, humans have learned that certain plants can fight infections and help to heal wounds. For example, we use aloe to relieve sunburn pain, but animals have been using it for various skin conditions for many years. Various plants bring comfort to animals when they are sick or injured, and humans have copied plant use by animals for treating a variety of ailments.

Researchers recently discovered that not only can plants offer relief to animals, but insects are also medically beneficial. More surprising is that animals know about these remedies and can use them. For example, scientists have observed chimpanzees catching a tiny flying insect and placing it on a wound or sore to provide relief. Researchers have not yet identified that insect, but they have seen primates use other arthropods and certain leaves to help heal wounds and provide relief from pain.

When humans don’t upset the system, animals are not helpless creatures. They have a minimum of suffering, and they even know ways to treat wounds and infections. Death in the undisturbed animal world is rapid and purposeful. Human interference with the natural balance often results in prolonged suffering for animals.

Too often, we prolong the suffering of other humans with expensive treatments that don’t produce a quality of life. However, we have much to learn from the world God created, and perhaps a tiny flying insect can be one more aid to healing or pain relief if the researchers can just find out what it is.

— John N. Clayton © 2022

Reference: Current Biology Volume 32, Issue 3

Where Biblical Morality Violates Government Regulations

Where Biblical Morality Violates Government Regulations

The persecution of Christians by governments began during the time of Paul and Peter and continues today in various countries. There are times and places where biblical morality violates government regulations, resulting in imprisonment. For example, today, in communist China, we see that simply meeting together to worship can result in lengthy jail sentences.

We assume that places where biblical morality violates government regulations are far away in countries where dictators, kings, or dominant philosophies control the population. At the same time, we assume that won’t happen in democratic America, where we are all free to live as the Bible teaches. However, in today’s America, that is not the case.

In 1968, the Fair Housing Act of the Civil Rights Act became law. The law intended to ensure that people were not denied housing because of race, religion, or national origin. On his first day in office, President Biden expanded that to include sexual orientation and gender identity. The administration has further expanded it to include facilities used by the general public, meaning that a bathroom that only one gender can use violates the law.

This regulation has become a particular problem for high schools and colleges. For example, what happens when a young man goes into a bathroom or locker room occupied by a woman, or vice versa? We see the situation where a male cannot be denied access to a female bathroom. A dormitory confined to one gender also becomes illegal. That presents a problem for Christian colleges and universities.

A Christian college is suing the federal government over this issue in the case of College of the Ozarks v. Biden. With elections coming up, it would be good to know the position of politicians in situations where biblical morality violates government regulations.

— John N. Clayton © 2022

Attitude Toward the Existence of God

Attitude Toward the Existence of God

One of our readers sent us a quote that contains a great piece of advice we want to share with you. The statement was made by preacher and author Chuck Swindall. It has been quoted many times on the internet and elsewhere, but we see it as relating to a person’s attitude toward the existence of God:

“The longer I live, the more I realize the impact of attitude on life. Attitude, to me, is more important than facts. It is more important than the past, than education, than money, than circumstances, than failures, than successes, than what other people think or say or do. It is more important than appearance, giftedness or skill. It will make or break a company…a church…a home. The remarkable thing is we have a choice every day regarding the attitude we will embrace for that day. We cannot change our past…We cannot change the fact that people will act in a certain way. We cannot change the inevitable. The only thing we do is play on the one string we have, and that is our attitude….I am convinced that life is 10 percent what happens to me and 90 percent how to react to it. And so it is with you. We are in charge of our attitudes.”

As Jesus talked to the people of His day, He frequently said, “how do you think” or “what do you think.” He wanted them to look at what they believed and why. The parable Jesus told of the Pharisee and the Tax Collector in Luke 18:9-14 dealt specifically with attitude and how it affects how we think and act. A person’s attitude toward the existence of God determines whether or not they are willing to examine the evidence. Furthermore, believing in God’s existence and accepting His love through Jesus Christ can change our attitude toward others and toward life itself. How is your attitude?